This issue brief from the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network describes inequities in oral health for racial and ethnic populations, and makes recommendations to reduce those disparities. Poverty, food insecurity, lack of access to healthier food, and lack of access to oral health care, and the uneven geographic availability of dental health care providers (especially those willing to accept Medicaid patients) all contribute to the inequities in oral health among racial and ethnic populations. Not dealing with an oral health issue can keep children from attending school and being successful in their studies, and it can mean missed work days for adults and potentially impacts their ability to find a job if unemployed. Poor oral health also has long-term impacts on overall health.
The issue brief makes the following recommendations:
- Expand access and integrate oral health into primary health care.
- Improve data collection, analysis and reporting of oral health disparities.
- Increase reimbursements for dental care providers, especially those in underserved areas.
- Expand and diversify the dental care workforce.
- Provide culturally and linguistically competent care.
- Address racism and discrimination in oral health care.
- Advance wealth building opportunities for low-income, communities of color.
- Improve unhealthy food and environmental conditions.